With free agency almost over, every team is close to finalizing its roster for next year. And this is the part of the year when most team’s fans can talk themselves into a scenario where their favorite team wins the championship. Maybe it’s too hard for fans of the Nuggets and 76ers to imagine their team winning the title, but there are several teams that can look like contenders if you squint hard enough.
Before the season actually comes around and spoils everyone’s fun, let’s take our time to embrace optimism and tell you why your team will win the title. We continue with the Golden State Warriors.
This might be the easiest post ever written, as it’s not hard to outline a scenario where the Golden State Warriors win the title, because it just happened.
We have questions about exactly how LaMarcus Aldridge will fit with the Spurs, and whether Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love can stay healthy. Ditto for the Thunder, and we’ll have to see exactly how much better the Clippers and Rockets will be.
There are no questions as to whether the Warriors can win the title. The team is obviously one of the leading contenders going into next season, and logic would tell us that Golden State is the favorite.
For starters, the team isn’t just coming off a championship. It’s coming off a season in which it was the best team wire-to-wire, finishing the regular season with an impressive 67 wins. Then, the team rolled through the gauntlet that’s the Western Conference with relative ease, and fought back the Cavaliers’ best efforts en route to the title. Sure, the Warriors may have been down 2-1 twice against Memphis and Cleveland, but this team felt like the favorite the entire way.
Most championship teams have to deal with aging and key contributors leaving after a title run. But the Warriors’ core is still very young. Stephen Curry is 27. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are both 25. Yeah, Andre Iguodala is on the wrong side of 30 and Andrew Bogut is aging and a health risk. But the limited minutes that both have to play in the regular season will help keep them fresh for the playoffs.
And thanks in large part to Curry’s insanely cheap contract, Golden State was able to bring back almost the entire team. David Lee had to be traded and he had his moments in the playoffs, but he spent most of the season as the forgotten man on the bench. Needless to say, his production is replaceable.
The biggest loss will be Alvin Gentry, the lead assistant for Steve Kerr who left to be the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. Gentry’s loss will be felt, but the Warriors still have a loaded staff, and Kerr now has a year of experience under his belt.
In fact, it’s not entirely unreasonable to expect the Warriors to get a little bit more comfortable in the second year of Kerr’s schemes, thus improving the team’s play. This is a terrifying thought for the rest of the league, but the Warriors struggled with turnovers for a huge part of last season. Some of these are the product of smart gambles, but if the team cleans up some of the more careless passes, watch out.
Of course, it’s unreasonable to expect Golden State to hit 67 wins again, as the team probably won’t have the same string of remarkable health as last season. But it’s possible the team could have an even higher ceiling, which would leave it as the odds-on favorite to repeat as champion.